The latest deal, crafted by five liberal and five conservative Democrats, was shot down over the weekend by Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman (right) who said he will vote with Republicans to filibuster the measure rather than allow an expansion of Medicare.
Talking Points Memo, a liberal news site covering Washington, says there is now "substantial doubt" any bill can pass the Senate, where there is a majority in support of change but a minority that can prevent it. Editor Josh Marshall says Democrats should "kick Joe Lieberman out of the party." Many polled by The Huffington Post agree.
The problem is there is little liberals can do, just as there was nothing conservatives could do to stop the health bill before. A bill under "reconciliation" needing just 51 votes to pass must go through the Budget Committee, and would of necessity have its money-saving provisions stripped out.
One move liberals may try is to run primaries against conservative Democrats, as conservative Republicans are running primaries against moderates. That might help close the present enthusiasm gap favoring the GOP, but it won't get a bill passed now.
But some will argue that the 2006 primary of Ned Lamont against Lieberman probably did more than anything to antagonize the former Democratic Vice Presidential candidate. Lieberman won anyway thanks in part to the help of a Senator from Illinois named Barack Obama.
On a more recent edition of The Daily Show, former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe listened to Stewart describe his man's troubles, then said the President "knows how to use a light saber."
Liberals are about to find out whether he does. If the President can't get his top priority through a Senate where he has a 60-vote majority, his Administration is likely to crash and burn, leaving Democrats to hope they can hold 40 strong votes against President Palin.